Spicy Lamb Stew with Chickpeas

You can buy pre-cut lamb stew meat instead of a leg of lamb. However, this is might be cut from tougher pieces of meat, and may take longer to cook. Keep cooking the stew until the meat is fork tender.

Try swirling in a spoonful sour cream or yogurt for a creamy finish!

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kilos) boneless leg of lamb, strings or netting removed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 1/2 g) ground black pepper
  • 2 sweet or Spanish onions
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 1/2 g) ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 1/2 g) cayenne pepper (skip this if you don't like spicy foods)
  • 1 can (14 to 16 ounces, 475 ml) whole peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl, or chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups (475 ml) water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) golden raisins
  • 2 cans (15 ounces, or 420 g, each) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup (5 g) chopped fresh cilantro


1 Heat the oven to 325F.

2 Cut the lamb into chunks: Remove the wrapping and and trim any excess fat from the exterior of the lamb. Open up the leg so you see where the bone was removed, then follow the deep cracks running between the muscles to separate the leg into smaller pieces.

Cut each of these smaller pieces into roughly 3-inch chunks for the stew. You may have some smaller or larger pieces; that’s OK. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and black pepper.

3 Brown the lamb: In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the meat and let it cook for 3 minutes without disturbing. Don't crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. The meat may stick at first, but will easily lift after a few minutes. Turn and brown the other sides for 3 minutes more. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

4 While the lamb is browning, prepare the onions. Slice off any straggly roots from the onions, leaving the firm root centers intact. Cut the onions in half from tip to root. Peel off the papery outer layers of skin. Cut each half into a few wedges, slicing through the root so that the wedges stay intact.

5 Cook the onions: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and add the wedges, cut sides down, crowding them as close together as possible. Brown for 2 minutes, then turn and brown the other sides for 2 minutes more. Try to keep the wedges intact as you turn them. Transfer to the bowl with the browned meat.

6 Add the seasonings to the pan: Stir the garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and allspice into the pan. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook 1 minute more or until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the water, scraping up any browned bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.

7 Braise the lamb: Return the meat and onions to the pan and stir into the liquid. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil.

Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

8 Add the raisins and chickpeas to the stew. Gently stir so some of the chickpeas are submerged in the liquid.

Cover and return to the oven. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the lamb is very tender and easily pierced with a fork. If necessary, continue cooking for 30 minutes more until the lamb is tender.

9 Serve the lamb: Taste the cooking juices for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Discard the bay leaf. Sprinkle the dish with cilantro just before serving.

The stew can also be cooled and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Warm over low heat or in a low oven before serving.

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  • Fran

    This recipe is amazing! I discovered it last winter, and it’s a weekend staple when cold weather hits. It’s got great flavor, and even better the second day.

  • Gloria

    This looks delicious and I shall make it soon! But I wanted to comment because I just noticed that the recipe includes metric conversions. So happy about this! It makes me love your site even more.

  • AJ

    Made this tonight, and it’s delicious! It makes a deliciously thick stew in just 90m, for reals. And in a shocking twist, when I realised I didn’t have a tin of tomatoes, I used (gird your loins) a jar and a half of salsa. It totally worked, and the stew was still great. Also didn’t have any shallots or cilantro, but again, it all still worked. Highly recommend, will make again!

  • Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen

    I love all the spices you have used in this dish. It must smell and taste delicious! I love the combination of chickpeas and lamb.

  • Mithra

    I loved this lamb stew recipe !!

  • techlazy

    Thank you for this great post. Your ketchup recipe is a staple in my kitchen! I just made another batch yesterday

  • Kate

    I’m going to try to adapt this for a small slow cooker. Ingredients look great.

  • Babina

    Such a simple, hearty dish but you’ve made it sound so exotic. You take us through the recipe in such detail, it makes it possible to imagine how the stew would taste and look in the end. I’m from the South Pacific Islands but of Indian descent. We don’t have sheep farming in the islands so we import lamb meat from Australia or New Zealand. I managed to get some good Australian lamb over the weekend and did a tomato puree based curry. Next time, I shall definitely try your recipe. Thank you so much. Looking forward to some more delectable recipes!

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    Lovely! This looks like such a cozy dinner

  • Lynn

    This recipe looks great. I might try to adapt it to my pressure cooker (Instant Pot). Any thoughts on that? :)

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Lynn! I’d find a good beef stew pressure cooker recipe and use that as your basic guideline. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

  • Karyl | Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

    I love lamb, but I rarely ever make it because it’s not the easiest thing to find in the grocery store. Gonna need to find a butcher that sells lamb so I can make this beautiful recipe